You’ve spent your time studying for the ACT and preparing to get your best score. In addition to test strategies, it also matters what you bring to the ACT test and how to handle yourself on test day. 

Master Your Preparation

Preparing for test day starts long before the night before the test. Have you taken practice tests? Do you understand the curriculum and strategies to help you increase your score? 

Even if you bring the right things to the test, it won’t help if you don’t bring the preparation that’s essential to doing your best on the test!

The Morning of the Test

Rise and shine. It’s testing time! Don’t roll out of bed five minutes before you need to leave. Instead, wake up by 6:30 so you can have an easy morning as you prepare for the test.

Before you eat breakfast, head outside and run a few 30-yard dashes. Not just to impress your neighbors–to get your body moving and your brain working. You want to be the most alert student at the test, firing endorphins, yawn free.

Wear clothes that allow for mobility. You want to be comfortable, but also not so relaxed that you feel like it’s nap time! It’s Hammer Time! It can also be a good idea to wear layers in case the room is too hot or cold—the last thing you need is a temperature distraction. 

Eat an Energizing Breakfast

Carbs fuel your muscles. Protein fuels your brain. That’s why it’s important to eat a protein-heavy breakfast before the ACT. Pick oatmeal over cereal and eggs over pancakes. Or make a protein drink that fuels and energizes your body. 

Even more important, don’t neglect breakfast altogether! Your brain and body need nourishment to endure the mental marathon ahead! 

Then get on your way and get to the test site by 7:45 so you can get settled! 

What to Bring to the ACT Test

Besides bringing your most energetic, prepared self, here are a few items you won’t want to forget!

Your ACT Test Ticket and Photo ID

These are essential so you can actually take the test! Don’t forget to print out your ACT ticket. Yes, it might seem a bit old school, but no digital tickets are allowed. Grab the paper copy, especially because your scores can be delayed if you don’t bring it! 

Your photo ID needs to be a valid ID issued by the government or by your school. It needs to have your picture and full name. Don’t assume you have it with you. Double check before you leave your house.

Four No. 2 Pencils (with Clean Erasers)

You cannot use pens or mechanical pencils on the ACT, so bring three or four No.2 pencils. It’s always a good idea to bring sharpened extras. You never know when you might be so passionate about answering a question correctly that you break a pencil. 

Make sure the erasers actually erase and don’t just smudge. That’s the last thing you want to deal with when you only have a few seconds available to change an answer.

Two Calculators (or Backup Batteries)

Grab a calculator or two for the Math section of the test. But first, make sure the calculator you choose is permitted. The ACT has an official list of calculators that they allow for the test. 

Also, either bring a backup calculator or grab a set of batteries (check which kind you need) for your calculator. You don’t want to be distracted because your calculator stops working halfway through the test. Preparation is the best option!

A Silent Watch with a Second Hand

Don’t rely solely on your test moderator to give you updates on the time remaining on the test. Bring your own watch with a second hand so you know when you have five minutes remaining. Then you know when it’s Bubble Time at the very end. 

Some watches are created specifically for test-taking. This can be a good idea, especially if you have an idea of your ideal pace that you learned from your practice tests.

A Protein Bar or Drink

Repeat it with me: Carbs fuel your muscles, and protein fuels your brain. Don’t waste your valuable ten-minute break after Math with Pop Tarts or a sugar-filled treat. Instead, use it to fuel your brain and give yourself a boost with a protein bar or protein drink for the Reading and Science sections.  Save the sugar for a post-test reward!

Make the Most of Your Break

The ten-minute break can be a turning point for your brain. The three R’s are your friend for the break: Restroom, Run, Restoration. 

Choose a far-away restroom (preferably next to the gym) and briskly walk or run there at the beginning of your break. Then go into the gym or find an empty hallway and get in a few sprints during your ten minutes. This physical activity is great for your brain. Then eat your protein bar or drink on your way back to the test room. Socially risk perhaps, but you’ll be prepared to Hammer the rest of the ACT.


Preparation matters. But it’s about more than preparing for the content on the ACT. Knowing what to bring to the ACT test is one more step on the path to success. Do what you can to help yourself in the small ways, from eating a good breakfast and waking up early to making the most of your break. 

After all, test day is Pay Day. 


SAT or ACT: Which Test Should You Take?  

This infographic compares the two tests to help you make an informed decision when it comes to the ACT vs SAT.